Pipe gripes in Park St

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Third sewage spill in three years for Millionaire Row.

There’s number ones, there’s number twos – but in Queenstown’s prestigious Park Street, sewage spills come in threes.

Residents of the upmarket lakeside street last Friday suffered their third sewage spill in as many years.

About 1000 litres of raw sewage – equivalent to 20 car fuel tanks – spewed on to the street and into Lake Wakatipu after a fitting on a new pipeline failed.

The pipeline, currently being laid, replaces a defective old one that blew out twice, sending 4000 litres into the lake in February 2007 and a smaller amount on to Park St, if not into the water, last September.

The Park St pump station also closed for about eight hours after this latest spill – effluent during that period was removed by five vacuum tankers operating in rotation.

Ironically, last Friday’s drama wouldn’t have occurred if there hadn’t been problems replacing the old pipeline.

Queenstown Lakes District Council contractor Fulton Hogan laid a major portion of a new 400-metre sewer line last month before offsite testing found the pipe was faulty.

It was dug out and FH is now laying a new pipeline sourced from a different manufacturer – again requiring closures along the popular Frankton Track.

Asked who’ll bear the overruns on the $350,000 job, QLDC engin­eering boss Mark Kunath states: “My expectation is it’s worn by the manufacturer of the faulty pipe.”

That’s reiterated by QLDC water services manager Garry McGraw: “At this point there’s no cost to council for the [extra] work, which is really good.”

Kunath says he can’t guarantee the replacement pipe won’t also be faulty “but we’re not expecting that”.

“All the testing we do is about making sure the pipeline’s going to last its life, which is something up between 50-100 years.”

Park St resident Mike Wallace wonders why QLDC’s engineering consultants didn’t test the pipeline first.

“You’d think it would be standard practice that they would test the materials before they put them in the ground.

“They’re doing it over and over – this is what they do for a living.”

Kunath concedes this would be ideal, “but because the testing is done offsite, there is a delay”.